An end to the old blue French hotel panels

Plaque d'hotel

Times are changing, French hotel identification signs too.

Yesterday I’ve made for the fun in front of my house in Haarlem a photography of an old blue hotel panel, bought 12 years ago  in a “vide grenier” in Brittany. An one star hotel! Of course our house is much more than an one star hotel according to all our guests visiting us, but it remains subjective and just the good (never bad) impression of our guests. And the new French hotel classification is supposed to be anything but subjective. The new hotel rating system is aimed to help travelers to select more easily their hotel when travelling to France.

Hotel classification in FranceEven if my hotel sign is not valid anymore (actually since yesterday 23rd of July 2012), I keep it preciously at home in Holland, it has something vintage. I would not risk to get a penalty for false publicity up to 15.000 euros.

From then on, two new signs will appear on officially accredited hotels: a red one for 1-star to 4-star establishments and a gold one for 5-star hotels. The plaque will show the year of the award and the expiry date, because it is attributed for five years. The brand name ‘France’ at the bottom of the sign will emphasize the official state character of the rating.

Hotels had until yesterday to complete the required modernization process, pass inspections and apply for their stars. But it doesn’t mean that the hotels that did not managed to do it within the last 2 and half years, can not do it in the future. The procedure do not end on July the 23rd, even if the Minister of Tourism, Sylvia Pinel, announced yesterday that she will initiate a discussion in September to identify possible areas of difficulties of this new hotel classification and wants to check out all possibilities to improve the classification system. ”This is not enough”, according to Sylvia Pinel, recalling “the government’s desire to have a maximum of classified hotels”.

According to Christian Mantei, General Director of Atout France, that officially manages the classification, out of a total of 17.000 establishments recognised by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) in France, 7.683 have already put in place the new panels, and over 2.000 are in the process of doing so, which amounts to a total of 72% of hotel capacity in terms of number of hotel rooms.

France and French don’t like that much reforms, but it’s crucial to remain competitive. The old classification took place more than 20 years ago and it took about 8 years to classify all the French hotels! If the French hotels want to remain competitive, investments in renovation is according to me the fair price to pay for an unquestionable lift to the overall quality of French hotels. Quality and services should not be the only French exception for high standard and luxury hotels, it should be a common standard. Hotels have to take into account  the ever changing demand of the clients and adapt themselves to new market developments.

The new ratings are awarded by the government only after a thorough visit of the accommodation in question, which is verified every five years by independent auditors in order to ensure the quality of service and comfort. In the past, once a hotel was rated, the rating could last for 20 years without a review!

And of course hotel reviews such as on Tripadvisor or Zoover and other social platforms will remain important and may be more important than hotel stars. Nevertherless I’m convinced that both criteria, the customer opinion and the official classification, are inseparable.

Last remark: my English is not perfect I know and please excuse my faults but I try to do my best to communicate in the Shakespeare language. Nevertheless interesting to notice that the classification takes into account the capacity of the staff to speak English (from 2 to 5 stars hotels). Here also a big improvement!

More information
Atout France: all official information about the classification. Site aimed for professionals - [information only in French available]
Rendez-vous en France: information for tourists
Understanding the new French hotel rating system: good summary in English of all criteria per category